September 2021

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Broadcasting on ALL channels…

It’s curious how the majority of people live to be fairly old (77.3 years), yet we don’t know much about what it is like. As young people, we have only known our grandparents as middle-aged and beyond, and if we’re lucky enough to have the kind of grandparent with whom we enjoy spending time and have ample opportunity to do so, hardly notice the changes, so subtle are they.

So, for anyone who might stumble upon this, I’m diving headfirst into what surprised me the most about getting older. It is without bitterness that I report on what I have learned and experienced, because, if you know anything about me, I don’t have the will or energy for such endeavors. Life is far too long to be spent in misery.

When I was first married (just two weeks before I turned twenty-two), I read a book (who knows the title or the author – this was, gasp, before Goodreads and me keeping track!) that described most vividly the relationship between a married couple in their fifties. They loved each other, were quite happily married, and had sex about once a month. That last bit positively scandalized me. How could it be that such an ideal marriage could survive, even thrive, on so very little sex? It seemed so…SAD.

Fast forward nearly thirty years and I know. After so very much wonderful, magical, fun, ecstatic sex, biology intervenes. No fanfare. A lot, then a little less, and lesser still. Like the insatiability hadn’t happened at all. More often than not, Greg and I wake up, snuggle, recount our dreams, and say, “Sex?” where it would not have been a question before, just a wild tangle of bodies. Then we shrug our shoulders, sometimes chuckle, and utter something like, “Nah. Coffee, then a walk? Or walk first?”

It might, to younger eyes, seem sad or disappointing, but it is fact. And, we, quite frankly, don’t care. Because we are the people in the book. We are thirty years together, more in love than ever, more understood than ever, better friends than ever, and it is not hyperbole to say it is nearly every great adjective in the book. When there is a struggle about how much sex we are not having, it lies mostly in the feeling that we ought to want it but don’t. Like we have to live up to what we’ve seen in the movies. People nobody really knows. Because bold Colleen has asked and read. Of course I have!

In other movies, and as my own younger self, I observed the older woman who has spent a lot of time and money on nips and tucks and fillers and had the same similar shock. Why DO that? Again, it is something a body must experience. The first time my cheeks sagged from gravity was utterly devastating. One day I woke up and my face was not as it was the day prior. Very strange and a little bit frightening. The person I knew so well before was becoming someone else.

Then the changes start happening with amazing rapidity, everywhere. Pert, perky places with upside down smiles, absolutely without warning: elbows, knees, ankles. Crepe paper skin on my wrist. Dark spots on my hands, legs, arms, in the shape of a butterfly (!) on my cheek. More disbelief! More sadness! And, in my case, a few zaps with a very painful laser to make me feel better, but not, oh never, put them off permanently.

Then, I also suddenly notice, there are all these other women at the grocery, shopping for clothes, and dining in restaurants looking very much the same. Aging. Why hello! I didn’t see you until I became you. So sorry! We look about and are acknowledged like one would a tree, there but unimportant until needed for shade. The women with the nips, tucks, and fillers handle it differently and stand out a bit more for it. Please show them kindness. This life is hard.

Not too far in the future (a few years, maybe?), I will be among them, with eyelids hopefully not in a permanent state of surprise because mine have drooped the whole of my life. One day, they will have gone so far the inability to read without eye fatigue and associated headaches will finally get the better of me. Wish me luck, please.

Then there is the weight gain. I read somewhere that a body over the age of 40 gains, on average, 1.5 pounds a year. Why, you might ask? As we age, we lose muscle mass, and because muscle is a major fat burner, when there is less of it, there is more of us. Greg and I were right on target (ha!) until COVID hit, and then stress baking packed on an additional five. Blech. No need to worry, though. If you can keep a check on it as you go, dialing high calorie food and drink down and exercise up, you’ll probably not end up overweight.

That being said, coming to this truth and joining Weight Watchers has been pretty great for us. Part of the process of being on WW is knowing your WHY. Mine is strength, accountability, and awareness, and damn if it doesn’t come up every single day. I walk or work out every day, see and feel myself getting stronger (I’ve got guns!). I track everything I eat and drink every day, and the fact that each item has a different point value, sometimes wildly so, I am more and more aware of how each will affect my short and long term goals. In the before times, I ate, exercised, and hoped for the best. Now I know before I even start what the outcome will be (like already losing nearly 10 pounds). It is empowering!

To further this sense of empowerment, if you are brave and self-assured and willing to do the difficult work of standing up for what is right, life vastly improves in just about every arena. There are no obligations to the cruel and dysfunctional. People who take no responsibility for their behavior. Who don’t apologize. Who blame you. It no longer matters if they don’t know what to do (poor babies) or simply refuse, because you DO know. Mother-in-law, cousins, siblings, “friends”. These people are released. Like birds from a too small cage, a leaf on the wind. Safe journey! The lightness and freedom is a wonder of staggering proportions.

And finally, because ooooh-eeee, is this a long one or what? For all the people who told me once I turned 50 I would be a big sobbing baby because I chose not to have children, you were wrong. I still LOVE babies (that smell!) and children and even teenagers – the newness, innocence, and questioning. I am quite adept at cuddling and adventuring and especially spoiling! But, but, but, I never-ever wish they were my own. I am well content with the life I’ve chosen. It is rich and joyful and colorful and fun. I stretch my mind and body. I am loved and love in return. It really doesn’t get any better.

Hoping the same for you…

Eagles

If you hang out with chickens, you’re going to cluck and if you hang out with eagles, you’re going to fly.

Steve Maraboli

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Getting Fancy

Good Wednesday to you, dear reader! How about the zoodle ramen above? It was pretty and damn tasty. The jalapeno was one of the hottest we’d come across in quite some time; neither Greg or I could eat the very few slices in our bowl. Yikes!

Time for a pack nap. Sooo cute!

Still beautiful in our neck of the woods…

One of my first memories as a child is the sound of the percolator at my grandparents house and the smell of coffee wafting to the guest room. I’d hop out of bed and pad down the hall to the thrill of Grandpa’s whistling. There in the kitchen, he’d be moving to an age-old dance, to and fro, to and fro, in slippers, old school jammies, and a robe.

From a very young age, I’d get to have a cup – a very pretty teacup, white painted with delicate pink roses. He’d fill it three-quarters with cream, add a tiny spoon of sugar, and top it off with coffee. Then we’d head wordlessly to the patio, where I’d snuggle next to him while he read the paper, puffed his pipe, and, of course, sipped his adult version, minus the sugar.

When Greg and I started dating, he did not like coffee. At our first outing to Paris on the Platte, as I knew he had always been a chocolate person, I convinced him to try a mocha – chocolate and a tower of whipped cream just the right combination to set him on the path to coffee nirvana. It worked! Before long, the pair of us were grabbing coffees at the the businesses popping up everywhere. Mochas, cappuccinos, black, with cream!

It should come as no surprise, on the occasion of our 50th birthdays, we decided to splurge on an espresso machine! After nearly three months on back order, it arrived, and we’ve been enjoying learning the ins and outs for the past few days. The coffee is delicious, amazingly so, and takes me right back to my very magical first espresso on my 16th birthday and all the other heady coffee house days since.

Our next project is to master latte art! Cheers to that…

Our girl looking VERY serious!

fennel + spinach soup

ground cherries

green chile pork burger

neighborhood crab apple

socca + whipped yogurt and feta + homegrown cayenne & tomatoes (the color!)

Grandma’s rosehips

kung pao chicken + vegetables

Mid-September! It creeped so stealthily in, a sudden call for blankets in the inky black of night and sweatshirts and light jackets in the low slant of morning light. Cool, cool. Days are all over the place, pleasant or blasting heat, the patter of rain on concrete. All beautiful.

As is often the case, I canned three batches of deliciousness over the course of twenty-four hours, Grandma’s rosehip + apple jelly, apple butter, and rhubarb jam. My legs were wobbly from all the standing and stirring, stirring, with the house a heady terrarium of sweet scented steam. The results are glorious and delicious, especially the rhubarb. I used the last stringy stalks, macerating them overnight in sugar in hopes of softening them up. There was a LOT of green, so I added a handful of frozen cherries to pretty them up, and boy, what a fabulous jam. But alas, no pictures! Gotta turn up the imagination dial.

We are still enjoying our Weight Watchers adventure, losing weight, learning, and questioning. Greg comments on how much more he is laughing. Me? How much less I am belching. All good. I keep adapting recipes to match points and do what I can to add MORE vegetables to our life. Steady as she goes….

Trust

Trust: the fruit of the work you are doing will grow in its time.

Morgan Harper Nichols

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